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BBAW: Profile of Poetry Book Blogger Regular Rumination

I was honored to win the poetry blogger award for BBAW in the past, but I also thought that any blog featuring poetry should be recognized since there are so few of us.  As part of that process, I looked to my network of blogs that I read and love, and thought it would be great fun to profile at least one poetry blogger this week in honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

To that end, I sent over a few interview questions to one of my blogging and Indie Lit Award judging buddies, Lu from Regular Rumination.  She’s one of the first bloggers I noticed posting about poetry, so I think it’s appropriate that she’s the one I profile today.

When did you first read poetry and what drew you to it? Or if you were initially put off by poetry, what changed your mind?

I think I first read poetry seriously my freshman year of high school. My teacher passed out copies of Pablo Neruda’s “I could write the saddest lines” and I immediately fell in love. I remember inhaling poetry from then on, but my love for poetry also came from wanting to write it and wanting to write it well. In college, I took as many poetry workshops as I could and now I miss it.

I don’t know that I was ever put off by poetry, but I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with poetry if we didn’t have to focus on it in high school. We also were required to write it, which was when I discovered that I really enjoyed it. For me, I often don’t learn to appreciate something until I’ve tried to do it myself. After that project ended, I joined an old AOL message board called My Poetry and Writing, and not only continued to write poetry, but also found my first online community. Now that I’m older and write poetry a lot less than I would like, I read poetry because it is important to me. It is less about learning how to write and more about seeing the world in new, exciting, and beautiful ways.

About how many books of poems do you review each year on average? Do you have an established goal of how many you will read and/or review each year? Or is the process more organic?

My blog has slowly moved away from reviewing books and I often find myself discussing specific poems over specific books of poetry. I have reviewed several collections over the years, but I rarely have established goals of any sort for my blog. I find that makes me avoid doing them; really, if there’s anything I don’t want to do for my blog, I should just say I’m going to do it. I like my reading to be more organic. I have made a conscious effort, though, to read more poetry every week, whether it is an entire collection, the monthly issue of Poetry Magazine or the daily email from Poets.org.

Tell us a little bit about the Read More/Blog More Poetry project (click on the image to learn more) that you started at Regular Rumination and what inspired you to start it and how has participation been? What are some upcoming events associated with the project?

What started out as the Read More/Blog More Poetry event has turned into The Poetry Project, which was started by myself and Kelly, from The Written World. It all started as a request on Twitter from a few bloggers for a list of poems. I wrote a list of my favorite contemporary poems and Jason from Moored At Sea made a list of classic poems. Kelly and I started talking about wanting to share the lists and also to convince more people to blog about poetry. Kelly is a new reader of poetry and I think that’s what makes us a good team: we have two very different experiences with poetry, but we both want to read more of it. The Project isn’t really about reading a specific poem or posting at a certain time, though we do have monthly optional themes, it’s really just about getting your feet wet with poetry and with blogging about poetry, if you’re new to poetry, and about making poetry a more visible part of your blog if you’re already a regular poetry reader.

What I think has been most successful about The Poetry Project is that anyone can participate, whether you’ve just started reading and blogging about poetry or you’re a seasoned poetry reviewer. It’s turned into a small community of people who are blogging about poetry and how they relate to it. The only real requirement is that you blog about poetry and link back to the post. Kelly and I are committed to including a roundup of each participants posts at the end of the month, so there’s one place where everyone can go back and look to see what we’ve all read and talked about. Participants are even contributing original poetry! It’s been really amazing.

Recommend some poets for beginners. Recommend some poetry translations or poetry for those who’ve read more poetry than others.

If you’re new to reading poetry, I think Edna St. Vincent Millay, for an older poet, and Natasha Trethewey, for someone more contemporary, are excellent places to start.

If you’re looking for something that’s a bit of a challenge, I really recommend Derek Walcott and, in translation, Neruda’s Residence on Earth. In the US and around the world, Neruda is famous for his love poetry, but the poems in this book are a love poem of a different sort. They focus on the earth and our relationship with our physical surroundings. They are beautiful and sensual and sometimes difficult.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future?

Right now, I am still reading some of the collections I have out from the library for last month’s Poetry Project theme of Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, including Marianne Moore’s collected poems. I am also always reading the Poets.org Poem-A-Day emails.

As for the future of poetry… I’m not sure. I think there are enough dedicated readers of poetry in this world to keep it an active and thriving community, even if it is a very small one. I hope that there will be enough English teachers like mine who help foster young people’s passions about poetry.

About Regular Rumination from Lu:

Regular Rumination is my own corner of the web where I talk about books, poetry, crafts, and whatever else is on my mind. I started it back in 2008, while I was home from college on winter break, looking for a great book to check out from the library. My life has changed a lot since then, but my blog has been the constant.

Thanks so much, Lu, for participating in this week’s BBAW profile of poetry bloggers.

  • I did sign up for that poetry project but am so behind!

    I kinda relate with her on her answers! Thanks!
    gautami tripathy´s last blog post ..BBAW 2012: Time to read some Physics….

    • I haven’t signed up because I knew that I would fall behind with the little one running around. I’m trying to keep the projects limited these days.

  • Meg

    Yay, Lu! 🙂 An excellent blogger who is just as lovely in person. I love reading poetry, and Regular Rumination and fellow book bloggers have definitely encouraged me to reconnect with it.
    Meg´s last blog post ..BBAW: Read this book. Please.

    • I’m glad that you are reconnecting with poetry.

  • Great interview! I have been “connected” to Lu’s blog/twitter for quite some time, now. I’m glad that you chose to spotlight her and poetry in general.
    Adam @ Roof Beam Reader´s last blog post ..This Book, I Love. (#BBAW Day 4)

    • I’m so glad that you’ve connected with Lu. I love that she is as passionate about poetry as I am.

  • I’ve seen The Poetry Project posts around the blogosphere. What a great idea!

    • I’ve seen it too in passing. While I’d like to participate, it didn’t happen this year.

  • It’s amazing–and encouraging, especially in light of the Chicago teacher’s strike and the state of universal public education in this country, to hear about a high school teacher fostering a lasting love of poetry. Yay!

    • I’m not even sure we can call it universal public education when students in many places don’t receive the same kind of education as their peers, leaving them woefully behind…which is partly due to the way the system is state-regulated, rather than federally. Not all states have the same standards, though there is a movement among state leaders to change that…but good luck getting all the states to agree on a set of standards.